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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

All Work And No Time To Work

Marianne sent this to me....

I just wanted to ask you one question: Had you been working during your Veterinary studies? I know that the scedule of a veterinary student is extremely demanding. Was it possible for you?
the reason I'm asking this is that I wish to study Veterinary Medicine but since I'm not 18 anymore, I don't want to burden my parents with any tuition fees or other expenditure whatsoever. I just need to know, is it possible for someone to study and work at the same time?

Being a veterinary student IS a full-time job.  You're going to easily put in 40-60 hours per week in class and lab time, studying, and otherwise being a student.  It is an extremely demanding and pressure-filled schedule.  Not only do you spend most of your day in classes and labs, but you often have study sessions in the evenings and weekends as well as intensive solo studying.  There are papers to write, research to look up, and an incredible amount of information to learn and memorize.  There simply isn't time to hold down a full-time job and be a vet student at the same time and the schedule makes it hard to keep regular job hours.

Part-time jobs are possible, and most people do have one where they can work weekends and some evenings.  During breaks (Summer, holidays, etc.) many people get a job with full-time hours to save as much as possible for when they can't do so during the school year.  But working for the equivalent of four or so months out of the year doesn't cover expenses for the rest of the year. During my own studies I worked when I wasn't in school as a way to help offset some costs, but I still had to take out student loans.

Unless you have tens of thousands of dollars (or your country's equivalent) in savings going into vet school or unless you are independently wealthy, you will need to take out loans.  Even people who get scholarships to cover tuition have to cover living expenses.  And scholarships are much harder to come by in vet school than they are in undergraduate college.  The high expenses and low ability to work is one of the things that makes a veterinary education so expensive, and why most graduates have over $100,000 in loan debt.  I maxed out on my loans during vet school, having started there with no previous debt whatsoever.  I was lucky and only racked up around $40,000 in loans, below average even for when I graduated in 1997.  And I'm still paying those off 15 years later.

As I've mentioned several times previously, getting a veterinary education in the US is becoming very burdensome, and more vets are finding it difficult to repay the high loans once they graduate.  Debt is growing at a much faster rate than starting salaries which makes for a low quality of life for most new graduates as they struggle to make enough just to pay all of the bills.  You should only seek a veterinary education if you really want to be in the profession and you are prepared for the financial burdens you will certainly face when you graduate.